Above: Soldiers of India and China during joint military exercise at Kunming in China (file picture). Photo: UNI
Almost three months of the tense standoff between Indian and Chinese troops at Doklam on India-Bhutan-China tri-junction ended on Monday, India on Monday announced ‘expeditious disengagement of border personnel’ in a press release titled “Doklam Disengagement Understanding”.
The development comes days before Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s planned visit for a BRICS meet from September 3-5 at Xiamen in China.
“In recent weeks, India and China have maintained diplomatic communication in respect of the incident at Doklam. During these communications, we were able to express our views and convey our concerns and interests. On this basis, expeditious disengagement of border personnel at the face-off site in Doklam has been agreed-to and is ongoing,” said the Ministry of External Affairs in a press statement.
Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said that India has pulled back its border personnel and equipment from Doklam, according to a report in The Indian Express. “China has confirmed that Indian troops and equipment have all withdrawn to the Indian side of the border area in Doklam on Monday afternoon. China will continue to exercise its territorial sovereignty in accordance with historical conventions,” the report quoted Chunying as saying at Monday’s daily regular press conference.
“The Chinese government highly values its friendly relationship with India. We hope India can fulfill the historic agreement on the border and safeguard the stability of the border area with China,” Chunying added, according to APN.
Indian and Chinese troops have been caught up in a face-off at Doklam since the first fortnight of June when China began extending a motorable road on the Doklam plateau that is claimed by both Bhutan and China and is strategically significant for India as it overlooks the strategic Chumbi Valley. The Indian troops promptly halted the construction work, forming a human chain, calling it a change in ‘status-quo’ with serious security implications for India.
India believes that the Chinese have an eye on the Jampheri ridge, which is of utmost military importance for India. China has been building up strategic infrastructure in the Doklam plateau region, upgrading road from Lhasa to Yadong, which allows the 500-km journey to be made in just seven hours, said The Indian Express report.
Despite repeated threats by the Chinese media and strident positions taken by official Chinese diplomats, India maintained that it will defuse the crisis through official diplomatic channels. China kept asking India to withdraw its troops for any meaningful dialogue to take place.
Chinese state-controlled media had meanwhile launched a propaganda war against India, threatening New Delhi with war. However, India did not respond to China’s verbal attacks and, instead, insisted on finding a peaceful solution to the issue through dialogues, even as incursions by Chinese troops continued in other sectors and the two sides even came to blows and scuffle involving stoning in Ladakh.
Media reports today interpreted the decision taken by both countries as a victory of India’s diplomacy, which was praised by other international powers as well.
—India Legal Bureau